Music and Alzheimer's disease: evaluating the long-term viability of functional music mnemonics
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Functional capacities become compromised in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The most common functional deficit in patients with AD is a decreased ability to manage instrumental activities of daily life (IADL; e.g., financial management, adherence to medication, grocery shopping, etc.). As the elderly population expands, and, subsequently, the number of individuals susceptible to developing AD expands, there is a growing need to develop therapeutic devices to reduce the effect of memory loss, IADL difficulties, and financial burden without the increasing use of medication. Music therapy has potential benefits on symptoms of dementia including social, emotional, and cognitive skills (Koger and Bretons, 2000). Although cognitive functions decline during the progression of Alzheimer's disease, receptivity to music remains intact until the late phases of dementia (Adridge, 1996). Along with the relative sparing of brain regions associated with musical processing during AD, there is evidence that music generally enhances both the encoding and retrieval of text. This study serves as a follow up study to the Simmons-Stern et al., (submitted) study. In the study, Simmons-Stern et al. found that patients with AD performed better on recognition memory tasks for lyrics designed to improve instrumental acts of daily living when the lyrics were accompanied at encoding by a sung recording compared to when the lyrics were accompanied by a spoken recording. We sought out to determine if the benefits of music on recognition are sustained in the long run. We were unable to find any long-term benefits of music on memory of AD patients. We hope this study can serve as a foundation for future investigation into potential therapeutic developments for memory enhancement in Alzheimer's disease.
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